Chef of the Year: Dan Bazzinotti
Dan Bazzinotti started getting interested in charcuterie at Bergamot over the last few years, but when the Bergamot team opened BISq in mid-2015 and Bazzinotti got the opportunity to take the reins at the new spot, he finally got to go truly crazy for charcuterie. One of the best ways to experience BISq is to snag a seat at the “Bazz Bar” and order the “Bazz Hook-up Board” if you’re really into meat. But also leave room for the rest of Bazzinotti’s menu, a selection of truly delightful small plates, from anticuchos to glazed lamb ribs.
Bartender of the Year: Joe Cammarata and Daren Swisher
No one knew quite what to expect from Hojoko, which, in its pre-opening press, promised to be a boisterous izakaya in Fenway from the team behind O Ya, an ultra-high-end sushi destination. Boisterous it is, buoyed by the non-stop fun of the bar program, overseen by co-bar managers Joe Cammarata and Daren Swisher. Only three months old, Hojoko is already attracting a parade of industry folks every night in addition to locals and guests at The Verb Hotel, which houses the restaurant. No one can resist Cammarata and Swisher’s hospitality — not to mention their creative shots, frozen drinks, sake bombs, and more.
Restaurant of the Year: Townsman
A great cry went up through Providence when Matt and Kate Jennings closed their beloved Farmstead Inc. to come back home to Boston and open Townsman. Here, the new restaurant — promising brasserie-inspired New England cuisine — was eagerly anticipated. Now open for the better part of a year, Townsman has cemented itself as a downtown destination, featuring towering displays of seafood and charcuterie, an all-you-can-eat pastry table at monthly brunch service, and a unique expression of the local bounty that hops from crudos to chowders to clams.
Stone Cold Stunner: Yvonne's
It’s a daunting task, taking over a historical space and completely revamping it in a way that honors the original but stands out on its own. The Yvonne’s team, led by owner Chris Jamison, did just that, transforming the Locke-Ober space into a swanky new restaurant with multiple bars, moody lighting, and an entrance through a faux hair salon. The opening took a lot longer than planned — because Jamison was designing the space himself and picking out every tiny detail. A few features from Locke-Ober remain, like a fireplace and the striking mahogany bar in the dining room; the latter is well over a century old. Yvonne’s features unique artwork by Handiedan, an Amsterdam-based mixed-media artist, and Charmaine Olivia, an oil painter.
Saddest Closure: Hungry Mother
After a seven-plus-year run, Hungry Mother closed in July when chef/co-owner Barry Maiden moved on, shortly after winning a James Beard for Best Chef Northeast. The restaurant featured upscale Southern cuisine made with a little bit of New England love. The rest of the team is working on a new concept in the same homey space, which is nestled on a quiet corner of Kendall Square. Nearby, the same folks also operate fun, noisy State Park.
So Hot Right Now: Brewer's Fork
When Brewer’s Fork opened in February 2015, it brought delicious new life to a quiet Charlestown neighborhood with few dining options. The perpetually lively spot features a killer patio, wood-fired everything (especially pizza, perfectly puffy and charred), and one of the best beer lists you’ll find in the Boston area.